Coronavirus aid sees Brazil's poverty rates drop to lowest level since 2004

Despite significant improvement in the 2000s, levels of extreme poverty shot up during Brazil’s economic crisis of 2015 and 2016. Now, according to a study carried out by think-tank Fundação Getúlio Vargas, the number of severely impoverished people in the country has fallen to its lowest level in at least 16 years, thanks to the emergency aid program implemented by the government to soften the immediate financial blow of the pandemic.

The level of extreme poverty — understood as families living on less than USD 1.90 per day — fell to 3.3 percent of the population in June, a dramatic fall from the 6.9 percent recorded last year. Meanwhile, the rate of households earning less than USD 5.50 a day dropped to 21.7 percent, down almost four percentage points from June 2019.

A popularity boost for the president

In July, a survey commissioned by financial services firm XP Investimentos found that the percentage of those who classify Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration as ‘great or good’ reached 30 percent, up 2 percentage points from the previous month. Rejection rates also fell 45 percent, three points less than in June. The research was carried out by pollster Ipespe.

“From May onward, we saw an increase of 5 percent in Mr. Bolsonaro’s popularity and a 5 percent fall in his rejection,” explains Erich Decat, a political analyst at XP Investimentos, speaking to The Brazilian Report. He adds that he believes this is a knock-on effect of the coronavirus benefit.

But Mr. Moura points toward a looming crisis for the president: around 80 percent of the people surveyed said they believed the aid program would be here to stay. He explained that this belief was tied to social status, with poorer individuals living further from urban centers being more inclined to think the Covid-“The more simple the person is, the smaller the income, and the more distant to urban centers, more the person believes this is permanent”, said Mr. Moura. 

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